Moto head

We're in Philadelphia this weekend, and decided to revisit Morimoto, which is still probably one of our top-5 restaurants worldwide. The first time we went (nearly two years ago, I think), we ordered the tasting menu, here called Omakase (お任せ) or “trust the chef.” It's a good chunk of change, but completely amazing… it's worth doing the first time, but not on every visit. This time, we were content to stick to the regular menu. Those prices are more reasonable than one might expect, given the quality of the food and the fame factor of the chef. Mains are in the $25–35 range. Sushi isn't really any more expensive than any high-end place in NYC, and it was the best eel I've tasted since being in Japan.

But this isn't just another Japanese restaurant. Morimoto's creations are unique, and draw flavors and influences from all over the world. One of our starters last night was the “tuna pizza,” which starts with a crispy grilled tortilla as a base. On top of that is tuna carpaccio (thinly sliced and raw), mild red onion slices, plum tomato, jalapeño, a touch of parsley, and anchovy aïoli. All perfectly executed.

For mains, I chose the black cod miso. This fish is apparently not in the same genus as our humble north Atlantic cod (or so I learned from Wikipedia), but rather comes from cold waters between New Zealand and Antarctica. Anyway, it tastes great with a ginger-miso reduction and a handful of Chinese red beans.

Art chose a crispy barramundi with mushrooms in an amazing red broth. I wish I had examined the menu more carefully; I'm not sure what was in the broth, but it was certainly tasty. I tried to check the menu online, but it's out of date. And why oh why do all restaurateurs get bamboozled into having these horrible Flash-based sites? (I'll save that rant for another day…)

We also tried a new beer in Morimoto's line-up: the black obi soba ale. I was a fan of the soba ale already; I occasionally find it at liquor stores (including, surprisingly, the Bottle Shop in New Haven) or the Fairway Market in NYC. But I love dark, rich, bitter beers (Guinness, Bar's espresso stout), and this one did not disappoint. Morimoto's beers are made by the Rogue Brewery in Portland. The ingredients list included “free-range coastal water.” :)

©20022015 Christopher League